To The Editors:
I am grateful to the editors for choosing a scholar of such stature as Professor Wilbur Stang to review my book It's Not All About The Breadcrumbs: Ants and Ant Behavior. But his review is inaccurate on several points:
1. First and foremost, Professor Stang misstates my views on ants as presented in the book. I did not claim (as Stang wrote) that ants are "our little pals, who can solve all our problems if only we give them billions in grant money and elect them to high public office." I made no such recommendations. My book is a sincere attempt to explain the complex social system and behaviors observable within a given ant colony--not, as Stang claims "an eight hundred page screed about how ants should be giving us all ballet lessons or something."
2. I am not, as Professor Stang wrote, "a white-knuckle ex-junkie who's apparently turned to snorting ants, these days." I am seventy-two years old and have never in my life abused any controlled substances for recreational or other purposes; I don't know where Professor Stang received this misinformation.
3. Professor Stang's acknowledged area of expertise is Slavic historiography, a discipline that requires only minimal research on insect behavior. In light of this, perhaps Stang can be forgiven for his some of his comparatively uninformed opinions about ants (that they are "little bastards," that they "can run up to sixty miles an hour," that they "fuck in the missionary position" etc.) But surely remarks such as these indicate that the editors could have done better by readers in their choice of a reviewer.
I continue to have the greatest respect for Professor Stang as a scholar in his given field. But the intricacies of myrmecology are not his native ground. And my wife is not, as he claims, "a goose-stepping Nazi."
Professor Wilbur Stang replies:If I misrepresented Professor Fine's views on ants, I gladly apologize. Perhaps Fine is right in contending that I was not the best choice to review his book. But it should be noted that Fine himself has an inherent conflict of interest in undertaking objective analysis of ants and ant behavior. His book makes it clear: Fine is himself an "ant partisan," gleefully looking forward to a future world in which humanity will be subjugated by their ant superiors. (Fine does not say this in so many words, but it is implicit in his tone throughout the book.) He is entitled to hold these opinions. But my own studies affirm that the Slavic peoples have suffered greatly throughout history. I feel it is wrong for Fine to advise them to embrace and welcome a life of mindless drudgery in the service of "the ant hierarchy."
Professor of Pan-Slavic Studies
University of St. Mary's on the Rocks,